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Tiger | India

Something was afoot when our long-standing client and ambassador, Glenn Weston became the first to travel with Rhino Asia to India. You’re familiar with Murphy’s Law. But you’ve probably never heard of Yhprum’s Law. On close inspection, you will discover that Yhprum is Murphy spelt backwards and its meaning reflects this polarity. Simply put, Yhprum’s Law submits that,

everything that can work, will work.’

The more romantically inclined contest that Murphy’s opposite is not Yhprum’s but that hard-to-pin-down concept called fate. Regardless of whether it was the Yhprum principle or fate at work, the fact remains that Glenn was the pioneer of the Rhino Asia experience and for that we are truly grateful. But enough with the sentiment already, we all know you’re reading this to find out about the tiger. Correction, tigers. Not one, twelve.

Tiger | India

And so, without further delay, let me hand over to the man of the hour, Glenn:

Since I was a small boy growing up in Australia I have dreamt of seeing a tiger in the wild. The local football team I’ve supported my whole life is in fact the Richmond Tigers. You may ask then why I’ve been visiting Africa for 10 years and never been to India before now. In short I’ve always felt that the tour coordination to India was not going to be sophisticated enough to ‘guarantee’ a great experience like a trip to Africa and this had always perturbed me from going ahead with the idea. That was until I spoke to David Ryan in Melbourne and knew that I’d have the reliability of Rhino Africa organising everything.

As per usual it was last minute organisation on my behalf and I made my consultant Shaun Stanley work extremely hard to get the right itinerary to match my needs and boy did he deliver within the strict guidelines I gave him. It was yet another trip of a lifetime organised by the team at Rhino Africa. From the time I arrived in India I was treated like royalty. The transfers were all seamless and the fact that I didn’t have to think for myself, if I didn’t want to, made for a very relaxing holiday.

The day trip to Agra to see the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort was incredible. I may have visited in the depth of summer, but even in winter this trip would warm your heart with excitement. From the time you approach the archway entrance to the Taj Mahal precinct and the view changes from hazy to clear with every step you take you can feel the majestic ambiance of this wonder of the world. The stories and history that go with these two sites makes for an amazing experience and the local guide was able to articulate this perfectly. We even had time to shop and dine before heading back to Delhi.

The Taj Mahal | India

(Watch Rhino Asia’s Taj Mahal video)

Red Fort | India

Of course that trip was lovely but my main reason for visiting India was to experience safari Indian style. My itinerary took in Pench, Kanha and Bandhavgarh. This mix provided a great variety of accommodation, game viewing, cuisine and overall experience. Beginning at Pench provided a beautiful jungle accommodation setting. Sleeping in the open rooftop Machans gave you great perspective for the sounds of the environment you were staying in. Whilst I only had two game drives here, they provided the highlights of my first tiger sighting (at a very long distance through binoculars) and my first Indian leopard sighting.

Leopard | India

Moving on to Kanha the next day had me very excited as I’d heard great things about the park and accommodation. I certainly wasn’t disappointed as the accommodation on the river overlooking the park was beautiful. The hospitality of the lodge staff was replicated with some great ‘naturalists’. At Kanha I was feeling anxious that I may not ‘officially’ see a tiger for the entire trip.

Tiger Tracks

This anxiety was alleviated when I had what I’d call my first official tiger sighting. A magnificent male, which was lying with 3 other tigers in the distance, decided to come down to the watering hole we were patiently waiting at to cool down. It was hard to hide my excitement as I fist pumped the air and a tear rolled down my cheek. My dream was fulfilled. The amazing thing was that this would not be my best tiger sighting at Kanha. I had two up close encounters, one with a beautiful female and another with an enormous male. Wow!!!

This is what I wrote to my friends after that close encounter with the female –

“First comes the Spotted Deer alarm call and a few seconds later one jumps out from the bushes. Then comes the rustling of the leaves and your anticipation builds for you know the vehicle is positioned perfectly. The grass separates and your heart beats faster than ever before, for you are about to have your first close encounter with a beautiful tigress less than 5 metres away.”

Tiger | India

(For more insights into Tiger Safaris in India, watch this video)

It sets the scene perfectly for the emotional highs that India can offer. For a seasoned traveller and wildlife lover like me this was the defining moment of a great trip. Of course there are many other exceptional animal sightings along the way that we are privileged to encounter, none more unique than the Barasingha, which was brought back from the brink of extinction and can only be found at Kanha.

It was always going to be very hard to top the highs I’d experienced at Kanha, but I was still genuinely excited about visiting Bandhavgarh for the different terrain and high density of tiger population. At Bandhavgarh I had more encounters with tigers, including an up close encounter with another female. You never take these for granted as in India you are at the mercy of the animal’s temperament, as all safaris are ‘on-road’ only and it depends if the animal is willing to come out when vehicles are present. Fortunately there were many animals that were willing to surface for my viewing pleasure.

Eagle | India

Indian Jackal | India

One of my favourite sightings though, actually came from a tiger about 120 metres in the distance. We were overlooking a field of long grass that had alarm calls bellowing loudly. It was a majestic sighting watching it swagger through the grass as the alarm calls rang loudly around it. From our elevated position on the road we were able to watch this unfold from all of the animals’ perspective. You can’t beat that!

On the topic of alarm calls, our vehicle had stopped to take more photos of the Langur monkeys, as they were overhanging the road on a branch. We were there for a few minutes and just about to move on, when suddenly they started screaming alarm calls and jumping from tree to tree. The excitement built and suddenly you had a first-hand preview of a leopard’s stealth in the jungle. It moved its way through approximately 50 metres of thick bush parallel to the road offering occasional glimpses. We obviously followed its trail closely and through the expertise of our ‘naturalist’ stopped the vehicle suddenly, whilst others kept going. The leopard suddenly stopped, did an about turn, walked about 70 metres back along the jungle’s edge and surfaced 10 metres behind our vehicle to cross the road. A breathtaking sighting and one you will never forget or take for granted.

To sum up the trip in brief, I didn’t see one tiger, I saw twelve tigers. That is obviously not going to always happen so I feel truly blessed for fate intervening when I was there with those animals. Thank you Rhino Asia and thank you Shaun Stanley for organising an amazing itinerary.
Last but not least thank you India for truly being ‘Incredible India’.

Tiger | India

Find out more about our new venture, Rhino Asia by visiting our website. Want to go to India but don’t know where to start? That’s where we come in… Armed with our collective experience and knowledge we have compiled four tours that showcase the country in her most magnificent light. And, lastly, if you’re already sold you on the experience, then don’t waste any time in contacting one of our travel experts who will tailor-make an itinerary to your exacting needs and budget.

Written by Lara Thomas

Our content writer Lara is big on adventure. Among her experiences are: snorkeling with dolphins, swimming with whale sharks, diving with ragged-tooths and bobbing alongside Southern Right Whales. She's seen a tiger in India and blue whales in Sri Lanka! Oh and she’s also a lawyer.
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